Media Review for December 22, 2015

Up to 19 Killed in Djibouti Violence
Opposition activists in Djibouti say as many as 19 people were killed Monday when security forces opened fire on a religious gathering in the capital. Witnesses said the troops targeted a crowd in the Balbala neighborhood that was commemorating the late religious leader Sheikh Yonis Muse. Security forces raided the venue at around 5 a.m. local time and began shooting, according to the sources. A reporter for VOA in Djibouti says more than 10 people were wounded in addition to those killed. The government of Djibouti says security forces opened fire after being attacked by an armed group of people. VOA

Kagame Praises Referendum, Says No Term Limit on Progress
President Paul Kagame has praised the recent referendum on constitutional amendment as a democratic choice started by Rwandans. He noted that term limits cannot restrict the country’s progress. “No individual is there forever, but there is no term limit on values, institutions, and progress,” President Kagame said Monday while delivering the State of the Nation address at the annual national dialogue. “Rwandans want good politics that keeps delivering… they also expect a democracy in which public office is routinely transferred from one individual of their choice to another, yet real power and decision-making always remain firmly in the hands of the people themselves.” Locally called “Umushikirano”, the dialogue brought together over 1,000 Rwandans, including those from the diaspora to discuss the country’s progress.  The East African

Burundi Rejects African Union Peacekeepers as ‘Invasion Force’
Burundi’s government said Sunday it would not agree to the deployment of African Union (AU) peacekeepers, warning that they would be seen as “an invasion force”. The announcement came a day after the 54-member bloc said it would send a 5,000-strong force to halt spiralling violence in the tiny central African country as fears grow that it is rapidly sliding towards civil war. It gave the government in Bujumbura a four-day deadline to agree to the offer, but warned it would send troops anyway. “Burundi is clear on the matter: it is not ready to accept an AU force on its territory,” deputy presidential spokesman Jean-Claude Karerwa told AFP. AFP on Yahoo News

African Union Awaits Burundi’s Formal Response on Troops
An African Union official says the continental body and the rest of the international community will not sit by and watch the escalation of violence and human rights violations and abuses continue in Burundi. Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairman of the African Union Commission said the peacekeepers, approved Saturday by the African Union Peace and Security Council are meant to prevent further violence and protect the citizens. He was reacting to news reports that a Burundian government official said Sunday that his country will not agree to the deployment of African Union peacekeepers. Deputy presidential spokesman Jean-Claude Karerwa told the French News Agency the AU peacekeepers would be considered “an invasion and occupation force.”  VOA

Burundi Security Forces Accused of Violent Repression
The security forces in Burundi systematically killed dozens of people during violent repression that took place in the capital Bujumbura on 11 December, Amnesty International says. It says that some of the scores of people who died during the single bloodiest day of Burundi’s “escalating crisis” were killed extra-judicially. At least 87 people were killed, including eight security force members. The government has not yet responded to the Amnesty report. But it said soon after the violence on 11 December that those killed were responsible for attacks on government installations. BBC

Burkina Faso Issues International Warrant for Ousted Leader Compaoré
Burkina Faso has issued an international warrant for ousted leader Blaise Compaoré for his suspected role in the 1987 killing of his former comrade, ex-president Thomas Sankara, a judicial source said Monday. Compaoré, who was ousted in October 2014 and is living in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast, has been charged with assassinating Sankara, a Burkinabe judicial source told FRANCE 24’s sister radio station RFI. Sankara — a popular Burkinabe revolutionary figure dubbed “Africa’s Che Guevara” – was killed on October 15, 1987 during a military coup that brought his former comrade-in-arms Compaoré to power. France 24

24 Libyan Muncipalities Sign up to Unity Government Deal
The leaders of 24 Libyan municipalities on Monday signed the UN-sponsored agreement on the formation of a national unity government, in a move welcomed by UN envoy Martin Kobler. “I’m very happy there are 24 signatures of the Libyan political agreement by mayors. This is a good sign,” Kobler told reporters after a meeting at Gammarth in Tunisia. Lawmakers from Libya’s two rival parliaments, as well as other political figures, last Thursday in Morocco signed a deal on a unity government despite opposition on both sides. The signing went ahead despite a warning from the heads of the parliaments that the deal has no legitimacy and the politicians signing the agreement represented only themselves. AFP on Yahoo News

UNICEF Report: Boko Haram Keeps One Million Children Out of School
The report, published on Tuesday found that more than 2,000 schools across Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger have been closed as a result of the violence imposed by the jihadi militants. Hundreds of other schools have also come under attack, been looted, or set on fire. “The longer [the children] stay out of school, the greater the risks of being abused, abducted and recruited by armed groups,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa.  Deutsche Welle

UK to Send More Armed Forces to Nigeria to Advise on Boko Haram
The UK is to more than double its deployment of British forces to Nigeria to help in the fight against the Islamist jihadi group Boko Haram. The British forces will be not be involved in combat roles, only training and in an advisory role, said the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, on a visit to Nigeria on Monday. The UK is to increase a force of 125, sent to Nigeria six months ago, to 300. The reinforcements amount to a recognition of the failure so far to deal with Boko Haram at a regional level. The US, which regards Boko Haram as closely linked to Islamic State, began deploying 300 troops to Cameroon in October. As well as operating in Nigeria, Boko Haram has been increasingly active in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon.  The Guardian

Nigeria’s Shia Detainees ‘Dying’ Without Medical Care
Nigerian Muslims wounded in military raids earlier this month are dying in detention because they are being denied medical care, the Shia Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) said Monday. Ibrahim Musa, the movement’s spokesman, said in a statement two of its members died in detention on Sunday. He said at least 40 other wounded members – including founder Ibraheem Zakzaky – were also not receiving medical treatment. Human rights activists say Nigerian troops killed hundreds of Shia Muslims in raids in the northern town of Zaria over three days from December 12-14. The army says it responded after the IMN tried to block the convoy of Nigeria’s army chief – a charge the Shias deny. It is impossible to say how many died in Zaria as the military sealed off the area for days. Al Jazeera

Mandera Bus Attack: Muslims Shield Christian Passengers in Kenya
A group of Muslims protected Christian passengers when suspected Islamic extremists ambushed a bus in Kenya, according to eyewitness accounts. The attackers ordered people off the vehicle in Mandera before telling them to split into groups of Muslims and non-Muslims. The Muslims refused their demands – daring the alleged extermists to kill them too, according to the Daily Nation newspaper. “The Muslims stood with the Christians and dared the attackers to kill them all or leave,” Mandera Governor Ali Roba told Anadolu Agency. “This forced the miliants to leave in a hurry fearing retaliation by residents from nearby villiages. The Independent

Grace Has Replaced Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai Claims
Zimbabwe’s aging President Robert Mugabe has been “surreptitiously but willingly” replaced by his wife Grace, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claimed Monday. Grace Mugabe, 50, had taken over in a “palace coup” and no one in government was doing anything about the country’s crisis, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said in an end-of-year message. “No one in government is thinking of solutions to the national challenges as everyone is preoccupied with issues of who will succeed this tired man steering the ship of State,” he said. “There is no boldness to confront the national crisis; what with an aged president and everyone around him fighting to succeed him,” Tsvangirai added, highlighting Zimbabwe’s growing unemployment and hunger. He said Zimbabwe was faced with a leadership crisis. His own popularity plummeted since a coalition government in which he served as prime minister ended in 2013. News 24

Guinea Government to Step Aside for Conde
Guinea’s government said on Monday it would step aside in the next two days to make way for a new administration as President Alpha Conde was installed for a second term. The 77-year-old, re-elected in controversial October polls, was handed a sealed list of his functions during a 15-minute ceremony at the constitutional court. “From this moment, the president begins his second term of five years and, in the process, logically the government will resign today or tomorrow at the latest,” Justice Minister Cheick Sako said in a statement. Conde had already been sworn in at a more elaborate ceremony a week earlier, but was asked to re-read his oath as he had omitted the pledge to “uphold the law” at the first time of asking. News 24

Rebel Leaders Return to South Sudan Pledging Peace
South Sudan’s rival factions said on Monday they are both committed to finally pushing ahead with implementing a peace plan signed in August to bring an end to the disastrous two-year civil war. After being delayed by more than a month, an advanced delegation from Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) arrived in Juba on Monday and was met by members of the government. “You are welcome home and you are welcome to your capital city,” said South Sudan’s government spokesman Akol Paul Kordit. “I would like to reaffirm our commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement and for reconciliation, the development of war-affected areas, and for final peace in our country,” he said. Al Jazeera

Muslims Shield Christians from Al Shabaab Terrorists in Mandera
Muslim passengers on Monday shielded Christians when gunmen attacked their bus between Kotulo and Dabasiti in Mandera at 7am. The bus which was heading to Mandera had stopped over at Kutulo Wajir following a ban on night travel in the region. “After stopping the bus, the heavily armed men separated us and asked the non locals their religions. They told the locals of Somali origin and Muslim faith to board the bus but Christians remained,” a passenger identified only as Otieno said. But the locals refused to be separated and stood together with the non-locals, daring the attackers to either kill them all or leave. The Star

Kenyatta’s New Party Should be Seen Through the Lenses of Succession Plan
As President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto presided last week at State House over the unveiling of a pact that will lead to the Jubilee coalition officially transforming into political party, the eye was not just on a united vehicle for the president’s 2017 re-election bid, but the longer-term effort to swing his ethnic voting bloc behind Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential candidacy. The launch of the Jubilee Party, scheduled for next March, is supposed to be followed by formal dissolution of the individual parties within the coalition, notably President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) and Mr Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP). Other smaller parties in the coalition, including Tourism Minister Najib Balala’s Republican Congress Party, are also expected to disband, as are parties allied to Jubilee but not formally in the coalition, such as Water Minister Eugene Wamalwa’s New Ford Kenya, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi’s Alliance Party of Kenya and Devolution Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri’s Grand National Union.  The East African

EAC Secretariat Coffers Run Dry as Partner States Default
The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat is in a cash crunch, with fears that the regional body may fail to pay its workers their December salaries, in addition to suspending its programmes. A source at the Secretariat says the five member states have defaulted in remitting $30.9 million in budgetary support, leading to rising supplier debts and disruptions of its operations. “There’re no funds even for December salaries if help does not come this week,” said the EAC official who preferred anonymity. The money, according to sources, should have been credited to the EAC accounts by December 14. Budgetary constraints in some of the countries and the political unrest in Burundi are some of the reasons believed to cause the delays in remitting the money. The East African

Senegal Denies Lamine Diack Funding Allegation
The government of Senegal has denied allegations that President Macky Sall’s campaign was funded by the former head of world athletics, Lamine Diack. Government spokesperson Seydou Gueye said Mr Sall was not involved. Lamine Diack, a Senegalese citizen, is under investigation in France, accused of turning a blind eye to doping in Russian athletics while IAAF chief. French newspapers have alleged that he received $1.6m (£1.1m) from Russia to back Mr Sall’s 2012 election campaign. BBC

Sudanese Refugee Recounts Forced Deportation from Jordan
Ahmed Doury and his wife had fled their home in Sudan’s Darfur region for safety in Jordan. But after Jordanian security forces violently rounded up and deported them and other Sudanese asylum seekers, the 32-year-old says he’s now more determined than ever to go to Europe. “I will take the sea … I will get out of here by any means necessary,” he said Sunday, adding that it was the only thing he could think about on the flight back to Sudan. Speaking by telephone from the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, he recounted the deportation to The Associated Press with a solemn voice. AP

Canada Looking at ‘Wider’ IS Threats in Libya, Sinai
Canada is taking a “wider” look at the danger posed by the Islamic State group in Libya and the Sinai peninsula, its defense minister said Monday during an unannounced visit to Iraq. […] “I have to get a good sense of where the evolution of the mission is going, and the evolution of the mission is going to be based on where Daesh is going to go,” Sajjan said, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group. He cited “potential threats in the Sinai” and Libya, where he said a vacuum was created after the toppling of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Canada was involved in the multinational force that ousted the dictator in 2011. Since then a political deadlock in Libya has allowed jihadists and people-smugglers to flourish. Ottawa has welcomed an agreement among some rival Libyan factions to form a national unity government aimed at stemming chaos in the country. AFP on Yahoo News

Niger Opposition Rejects Voter Register, Casts Doubt on Polls
Niger’s opposition parties rejected a newly audited voter register on Monday, saying the process did not meet their demands and casting doubt on presidential and parliamentary elections set for February. The uranium-producing West African country, one of the world’s poorest, has a history of instability and coups. In what had been seen as a victory for parties opposing President Mahamadou Issoufou, the government agreed on Dec. 12 to their demand for an audit, saying it was doing so to ensure transparent and peaceful elections. But opposition representatives withdrew from the panel selecting a firm to carry out the review, arguing no satisfactory candidate had been found. Issoufou’s allies continued the process without them. Reuters

Malawi ‘Suspends’ Anti-homosexual Laws
Malawi has imposed a moratorium on anti-homosexual laws pending a decision on whether to repeal the legislation, Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu has said. A review of all colonial-area sodomy laws will be launched in consultation with the people of Malawi, he added. Mr Tembenu also ordered the release of two men charged with having sex “against the order of nature”. One human rights activist describes the move as a step in the right direction. However, many Malawians are not happy with the decision and religious leaders have asked the government not to relent to pressure from Western donors by allowing same-sex relationships. BBC

US Adds African Lions to Endangered List
The United States added two species of lions in Africa to its endangered list Monday, a move that will make it more difficult for hunters to bring lion trophies back into the country. The Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the list, says it was prompted by declining populations in the wild and the need to ensure those who illegally hunt cannot gain from their actions. One lion species found in central and western parts of Africa, as well as India, has a population estimated around 1,400 and is being classified as endangered. The other species, predominant in eastern and southern Africa, has a population up to 19,000 and will be classified as threatened. The labels have strong implications when it comes to imports. Parts from endangered lions will be all but banned. For threatened lions, hunters must obtain a permit to import the animal from a country with solid conservation practices that benefit the species.  VOA



Photo: Adam Jones